Photographer Paul Mobley has met countless celebrities over the years, but says he’s never felt more awestruck than when he was shooting centenarians for his latest project.
“When I’m sitting in a room with a 115-year-old woman or a 110-year-old-man, I thought to myself, I had more tingles than when I photographed a famous rock star or actor or actress,” Mobley told The Huffington Post.
Mobley is the co-author of an upcoming photography book, entitled “If I Live To Be 100: The Wisdom Of Centenarians,” in which he had the “honor” of meeting 75 of the oldest people across the nation.
He traveled all 50 states, meeting people between the ages of 100 and 116, to learn their secrets to longevity and their advice for a life well-lived. The result? A whopping 7,707 years of combined wisdom at his disposal.
“Every one of them gave me the best advice and it was just basic advice that we’ve all learned but maybe have forgotten about as we’ve gotten older and the world has changed,” the 50-year-old photographer said.
“To try and live a good clean life or do a hard day’s work. Be kind to your friends and neighbors. Don’t miss the hellos. When u shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye,” he said. “Stuff that is so basic, but when you really think about it, it really is what matters.”
He noted that all centenarians had two things in common: they stayed active throughout their lives and made sure they had something to look forward to every single day ― whether it was a call from a loved one or playing pool with a friend. In addition, after researching the book, Mobley says he believes longevity is just 30 percent genetics and 70 percent how you live your life.
“If you sit on your couch, lose contact with friends and don’t stay active, you go pretty quick,” he said.
Mobley says he’s fascinated by elders ― a tremendous untapped source of wisdom that few take the time to acknowledge.
“I think that elders, in general, are passed by,” Mobley said. “I found specifically in my travels that no one really seems to want to talk to them and listen to what they have to say... If people would take the time to listen, they’d be surprised.”
In the book, which comes out on October 11th, Mobley shares stunning photographs of the elders ― wrinkles and all ― plus their best advice. Here are some of the portraits: